FURTHER RESPONSE

 

Application 15/510595/OUT  Land Off London Road, Newington, Kent

Outline application with access matters reserved for residential development of up to 140 dwellings plus 60 units of Extra Care (including a minimum of 30% Affordable), an allocated 1/4 acre of serviced land for potential doctors surgery, demolition of farm outbuildings, planting and landscaping, informal open space, children's play area, surface water attenuation, a vehicular access point from London Road and associated ancillary works. (Resubmission of 15/500671/OUT)

Application received:  Wednesday 23 December 2015;  date of written notification 21 January 2016.

Status:  Awaiting decision Swale Borough Council Planning Committee 28 April 2016  .

 

 

(Application: 15/500671/OUT

Outline application for residential development of up to 330 dwellings plus 60 units of extra care (including a minimum of 30% affordable), an allocated 1/4 acre of serviced land for potential doctors surgery, demolition of farm outbuilding, planting and landscaping, informal open space, children's play area, surface water attenuation, a vehicular access point from London Road and associated ancillary works. (Access being sought)

Application received: Tue 27 Jan 2015 | Validated: Fri 13 Feb 2015

Status: refused 13 August 2015 by Swale Borough council Planning Committee

 

and  Application 15/500694/LBC

Listed Building Consent for the demolition of redundant farm outbuildings to the listed Pond Farm, in association with outline application for residential development covered under 15/500671/OUT

Application received: Tue 27 Jan 2015 | Validated: Fri 13 Feb 2015

Status: refused 8 May 2015 (Head of Planning Services)

Appeal lodged by Gladman Developments as Swale Borough Council had not decided this application within the statutory period The Planning Inspectorate/Secretary of State has decided that the appeal will be determined on the basis of a Public Inquiry.

Planning Inquiry:  to start Tuesday 21 June 2016 (in Swale House, with preliminary plans for a 6 day hearing))

Councillors considered this application and, although the development had been reduced from the previous applications15/500671/OUT together with 15/500694/LBC), concern was raised about the impact it would have on the village. It was AGREED UNANIMOUSLY to object to this application.

 

Whilst acknowledging that an effort has been made to make the latest application less unacceptable, we resist any development on this working farm.

 

Pond Farm is part of the essential strategic gap to west of Swale, serving to prevent a collection of village with separate identities being joined into a sprawl of developments.  We would ask The Planning Committee to consider the Secretary of States ruling in the following appeal. .Town and  Country Planning Act 1990 – Section 78; appeal by JM Beatty, I S Clark and Redrow Homes, South Midlands; Land at Station Road, Earls Barton  NN6.0NT  APPLICATION REF: WP/2013/0457/OM –(Paragraphs 18 & 19 are relevant)

 

Swale Borough Council Planning Committee have previously rejected an application for the demolition of the farm buildings (15/500694/LBC).  Although it is now known that the outbuildings are not listed, these form an essential part of the historic curtilage of the farm; without them the importance of the grade II listed farmhouse is greatly diminished.  The presence of a working farm on ‘best and most versatile’ land retains the true value of the site.

 

The report skates over the National Planning Policy Framework which clearly states that brownfield or poorer quality land should be used in preference to best and most versatile land.  The proposed site does not feature in the local or emerging local plans.  We believe there are adequate grounds for the rejection of the application.

 

We wish to take issue with many of the points made in the officer’s report and are surprised that it has ignored ‘the significant amount of opposition from residents, Parish Councils, Ward Members and MP’, all recently re-stated.

 

The report suggests that brickearth extraction would not be viable.  We find this puzzling when Wienerberger, surely international experts in this field, expended such energy over the immediately adjacent fields at Paradise Farm just over a year ago.

 

Newington Parish Council remains concerned about air quality.  It seems we are assessed against urban rather than rural benchmarks. .We ask you to consider: Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe. This directive sets the limit at 30 ug/m3 and not 40 ug/m3.  We are not persuaded that the proposed mitigation measures will have any effect.  It is surely a fact that any increase in traffic will result in further hold-ups in the Village centre, with inevitable increase in noxious fumes that impact on the health of residents.  The suggestion that, in future people, will ride bicycles or drive electric cars is not persuasive.  We note that Medway Council’s response regarding the effect on Rainham AQMA is awaited.

 

This mark III application proposes changes to the road layout.  There is a proposed ‘pedestrian refuge’ to protect pedestrians crossing the road.  This would be used by schoolchildren crossing to the eastbound bus stop and is an unsatisfactory solution.  The proposed puffin crossing is at the eastern end of the site, away from the new bus stop.  We believe the ‘ghost island’ for traffic turning into the development from the west would lead to traffic queues at peak times.  Emergency vehicles on ‘blue light calls’ commonly overtake at this point before entering the Village centre or to speed up after slow progress through the village.  The introduction of an additional island and a ghost island would create problems for these and we note there has been no report from the emergency services sought in preparation of the report; we request that their views be sought.

 

Each of the Gladman proposals has included a plot for GP surgery.  We note the response from the NHS clinical commissioning group shows they have no intention to provide one.  Therefore there is a real concern that the land identified for a surgery would be re-designated for housing

 

The report acknowledges a ‘substantial, approximately 20% increase in the existing built up area of the village’.  The 2011 census shows a Newington population of 2551 in 1089 household spaces.  Since then approval has been given for 12 flats and 39 houses, with applications for a further 31 houses currently awaiting decision, ie already a potential for an 8% increase.  It is a mathematical fact that, as the baseline increases, each increase is as a smaller percentage, masking the real effect on people in the Village.  Newington Parish Council believes that the already approved applications described above make a contribution to the housing needs of the Borough appropriate to a village of our size and amenities.  For this reason the LDP proposed a growth of 1.3% for Newington; very different to the increase that the revised Gladman proposals would bring about.

 

Extract from Swale Borough Council Local Plan     ‘At Newington,

despite its role and level of services, development opportunities are very limited due to the valued landscapes and habitats to the north of the village and a restricted internal road network which emerges at a bottle-neck in the centre of the village. Development of any scale here is further hampered by the effects of traffic on the historic core of the village and an Air Quality Management Plan that has been introduced to address unacceptable pollution levels. The scale of growth at these A2 settlements need to be considered for their impacts upon the traffic flows which impact

adversely upon those who live along it.

 

The Medical services locally are insufficient and our local major hospital is in special measures and has been for nearly 3 years. An increase in population will directly impact on local medical service.

 

 

 

It would seem that consultants have been engaged, only for their advice to be disregarded.

 

Environment Protection Manager: ‘I remain concerned about cumulative impacts of several developments on air quality’.  This advice is ignored.

 

Similarly issues of concern about the potential effect on AQMA in Rainham is not explored

 

Southern Water are reported as stating ‘if the developer intends to use their statutory rights to connect to the public sewer, the capacity upgrades of the system may not necessarily keep pace with the intended development timescales because of regulatory investment system used’.  Understandably this causes considerable concern to neighbouring residents.

 

The Council’s Landscape  and Visual Impact Consultant concludes ‘…strong justification for Swale Borough Council to refuse the application’, yet this advice is ignored

 

The Council’s Rural Planning Consultant raises the issue of whether the site is necessary and if sufficient arguments have been presented to override the NPPF guidance.

 

 

Newington Parish Council has noted the proposed Developer contributions and would wish to challenge the conclusions:

 

Highways England request £88,935 towards an improvement scheme at the Key Street roundabout.  We do not see how a ‘contribution’ of this amount would have any noticeable effect on the significant problems of congestion at Key Street, especially prevalent at morning and evening rush periods.  We note stronger reservations expressed by KCC Highways and Highways England to the previous application and do not see how these have been addressed.

 

The proposed S106 suggests the proposed play area have equipment that is either maintained by Gladman maintained, or Swale Borough Council be paid £861 per dwelling for its provision.  This proposed play area is 200 metres from the Recreation Ground Play Area maintained by NPC.  Surely a better solution would be to fund further improvements to the existing play area rather than building another.  We do hope that the intention is not that ‘Estate’ children would not venture onto the recreation ground and that ‘Village’ children would not be expected to enter the ‘Estate’

 

Similarly, there has been no popular acclamation for the concept of ‘community orchard’ when the proposal would obliterate the existing working orchards and be less than 300 metres from the existing community woodland with picnic area and access to footpaths, at the edge of the recreation ground which is directly adjacent to the proposed development.

 

NPPF

 

The proposed care home is a concept that has not been developed in the report.  There seems to have been no exploration of the potential for one-bedroom bungalows for the elderly but still independent residents who are subject to the terms of the ‘under-occupancy charge / spare room levy’

 

We note that it is proposed that only one home is have wheelchair access.  This seems mean and,at best, a token gesture.

 

The proposed education contributions are a cause for concern:  The proposed S106 suggests for Primary Education,  £297,480.96 towards Regis Manor School Phase 2 expansion, suggesting that, if the development were permitted, the resident children would not be expected to attend Newington Primary School.  For Secondary Education it is proposed that funding  of £297,334.80 to  – Sittingbourne Academies Trust (sic); we presume this means Swale Academies Trust which includes Regis Manor Primary and two local High Schools amongst its number.  This means no funding towards Grammar School places and there is an unresolved question of funding to Medway Council for those children travelling west to school from the bus stop directly outside the proposed development.  Whilst the current rules for education funding under S106 agreements is understood, it should be noted that the government propose all schools to be academies by 2020 (ie by the time any child from this development, if permitted, would commence their local education.  Government proposals for future school-place funding are uncertain and we are concerned that our local school should not be overlooked.

 

The proposed S106 suggests £4735.08 towards new equipment at New House Youth Centre which we believe is a good facility, but one not used by young people in Newington due to lack of public transport in the evenings.  This is at a time when Kent County Council is seeking to reduce its commitment to youth services.  Youth work in Newington is active and undertaken by volunteers who have to find their own funding.  Surely such a contribution would be better made to local, village, provision.  We are not aware that any attempt has been made to investigate active provision in the Village for the compilation of this report.

 

New bus stops are proposed to serve the development.  These would each be less than 150 metres from existing bus stops at the A2 junction with Playstool Road and opposite the Village sign.  This concentration would inevitably slow traffic and lead to further congestion.

 

Newington Parish Council is puzzled at the reference to 10 additional lighting columns in Church Lane on the other side of the village.  This would not be viewed as a priority by NPC and no member of the Council can recollect discussions about this.  Indeed Gladman have consistently refused all invitations to attend Parish Council meetings to discuss their plans for development in the Village

 

AQMA mitigation in the proposed S106 is insufficient.  Unsurprisingly residents are not impressed by the proposal for 3 bicycle stands at Newington Railway Station and for the promotion of cycling and encouraging public transport in ‘residential travel induction pack’ and are not convinced of the efficacy of this approach in significantly reducing air pollution in the Village.

 

 

 

Newington Parish Council requests that Officers ensure that members of the Swale Borough Council Planning Committee see our full response rather than a summary